Youth Boat Race makes waves

Posted on Wed, 27 Mar, 2024

Young rowers from local state schools take part in the inaugural Youth Boat Race.

On Tuesday 26th March, The Boat Race Fund and Fulham Reach Boat Club collaborated in a first of its kind Youth Boat Race to provide opportunities for local children to participate in the magic of The Gemini Boat Race ahead of Saturday's big race.

32 local children took to the water from 7 local state schools, in attendance were the Gemini Boat Race official umpires, Sir Matthew Pinsent and Judith Packer, accompanied by the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, Councillor Patricia Quigley who awarded the medals to all participants.

Funding for the Youth Boat Race 2024 was provided by The Boat Race Fund, which is run by the trustees of the Oxford and Cambridge Rowing Foundation. Chairman Jonny Searle commented: ‘“The event absolutely lived up to expectations - we have been really excited to work with the highly professional team at Fulham Reach Boat Club and to see so many young people become part of the Gemini Boat Race family was really inspirational.”

The event started with a traditional Umpires race briefing and coin toss for the crews to decide their stations, the side of the river with which they will race. Both crews that won the toss chose Middlesex, the side closest to Fulham bank.

Sir Matthew Pinsent, Gemini Boat Race Umpire and four time Olympic Gold Medallist, added “FRBC do a fantastic job bringing more people into the sport, we’re always looking to drive more people into rowing, and the Youth Boat Race is a wonderful initiative bringing a new dynamic and new population to rowing.  It's all about camaraderie, teamwork, dedicating yourself, having fun and being with your mates.  Yes, there’s racing and competition, and I've won 4 Olympic gold medals, but when I look back it’s the experiences and the people that stay with you years later.”

Race one saw mixed crews from Kensington Aldridge Academy race Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. Sir Matthew Pinsent aligned and started the race, with Cardinal Vaughan taking an early lead. Kensington Aldridge Academy were coxed by Tashi Spence, Alumni of the school and Fulham Reach Boat Club Coach, who was looking to muster a big push to bring them back on to level terms but the crew were hampered by an oar coming loose, which meant they followed in second.

Race two saw mixed composite school crews from Sacred Heart High School, Hammersmith Academy, Fulham Boys School, Holland Park School and Kingston College.  This was a close fought race all the way to the finish with the crew coxed by Sophie Wrightson, Junior World Champion Cox and Fulham Reach Boat Club Coach, just pipping it to the finish post.

Mayor Quigley added “Everyone should be very proud of what they have achieved today. This has been a fantastic event and fingers crossed we can continue to have a Youth Boat Race in the future”

Adam Freeman-Pask, CEO of Fulham Reach Boat Club, added “Some rowers had only picked up an oar in the last six weeks, so a fantastic achievement to be out racing and this will no doubt be a memorable and positive experience that will inspire them for years to come”

Post racing the crews were gratefully hosted by Thames Rowing Club, where supporters and representatives from across the sports sector such as World Rowing, Sport and Recreation Alliance, Port of London Authority, British Rowing, Love Rowing, gathered to celebrate the success of all the crews in taking to the water. 

Siobhan Cassidy, Chair of the Boat Race Company Limited said afterwards “The ambition was that The Youth Boat Race would inspire the young people competing and connect the Gemini Boat Race to the community in which it has lived for almost 200 years in a shared experience of race preparation and competition. It certainly achieved that.”

Read more about the Youth Boat Race on the Boat Race website > https://www.theboatrace.org/news/inaugural-youth-boat-race-inspires-local-students-and-strengthens-community-ties 

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